Back in the early 80s, I wrote my first book. And I almost didn’t write it, simply because I didn’t believe in myself. I did get as far as writing a query letter to three book publishers, telling them what I had in mind, and asking them if they were interested. All three of them responded, stating that yes, it was a good idea and that I should write the book.
Well, I was a rookie back then and was still filled with self doubt. But one of those editors was smart enough to not forget about my letter and my book idea. He kept bugging me about it again and again, enough that I finally did write it. And you know who I ended up sending it to? Richard Coffen, that editor who gave me my first published book.
Today, 22 books later, I have one book, Tesla’s Ghost, that is with my beta readers, and I am hope is not long from being sent to agents for consideration. And I have another book, The Key of Solomon, that saw its first pages written yesterday. I got up this morning, and my first inclination was to do many things, actually anything, but work on my new book. The reality is today that if I spent the summer goofing off, playing Skyrim on the computer or just watching TV, no one would get after me about it. I would only be answerable to myself.
And that’s what it takes to be a writer for life. Accountability to yourself. Nobody cares. That’s the reality of it most of the time. I am the only one who has to live with my successes or failures. But I have to live with them.
We talk a lot about the word “success” in my writing classes at the university. It means different things to different people. And it even means something different to me now than it did 20 or even 10 years ago. Today I take satisfaction in the fact that I have the ability and the opportunity to be creative and express that creativity in a way that others can see. And I take a special joy when others tell me that my writing has had a positive effect on them.
Fame and money are fleeting. But self-respect is important. If you’re a writer, you have to prove it to yourself. Even if no one else cares.